November 14, 2005

Down in Albion

4 out of 5 stars
Excuse me whilst I eat my hat, Pete has finally came up with the goods…
As some of you may have gathered Babyshambles, or Pete Doherty, in my opinion at least, have had far too many chances. No shows, cancellations, intoxicated performances. Everything you can think of that could go wrong from a fans perspective has. However, this is their final chance to show the world that they really do play and it’s not just another Milli Vanilli style PR stunt.
Doherty, as ever sounds fantastic on record and I’m afraid to say his vision of Albion shines throughout the release. Incidentally much of which sounds like a scrap between the Kinks and Beatles in an east-end lock up mixed with the more frantic moments of the Libertines, (think ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ meets ‘Dedicated follower of fashion’ for ‘A’rebours’ (formerly Curtain Call).
It’s this clash of past and present that seems to create Pete’s vision of England, Albion if you like and the next single, which is of course ‘Albion’ embodies this perfectly. Though gone is the defiant sense of optimism of the Libertines. Instead an overwhelming sense of sadness envelopes the lyrics, yet a typically Doherty-esque defiance does comes through. It’s just a shame that his recorded visions rarely make it in a comprehendible form to the stage as the majority of live reviews show.
The musical nostalgia of sorts is perfectly captured by Mick Jones whose influence has extended beyond the mixing desk in the Clash like ‘Sticks and Stones’, possibly one of Pete’s greatest moments. Remarkably the standout moments on this record are those that have not yet been released as singles, though many tracks have previously been available through the Babyshambles site. The most remarkable transformation is of ‘Sticks and Stones’ from a acoustic malady into a track both equally strong and reminiscent of ‘White man (in Hammersmith Palais)’ by the incomparable Clash.
Prizes for those who can identify that ‘mystery’ voice on opener ‘La Belle et le bete’ Which is of course Kate Moss. Another remnant of the whole Doherty is it isn’t it farce is the presence of ‘Back from the dead’; the B-side to the superb ‘For Lovers’ though the dizzy guitar line has been lost in favour of a bop-bop Baby bell bass line and what songs like jingling milk bottle tops. Yet despite this, it’s still a great track. Albeit a great track with dentures. It may be worth noting that if you listen carefully as the song draws to a close you can hear Pete shouting ‘Shoop shoop shoop de lang a lang’ another reference to days gone by. It might just be me but the sentiment of ‘Down in Albion’ is a distinctively Libertines’, one gets the idea that Pete is missing something.
All in all, the record is two songs longer than need be but it is a statement of, if not intent, then promise. Pete Doherty has created a minor masterpiece and a victory over his critics even if it is an album of what essentially sounds like demos. Excuse me whilst I eat my hat…

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  • lol whats with the 2 year gap in blog posts! by Boys Blog on this entry
  • Evidently I disagree. I apologise for mistyping; unedited you see. I would struggle to see how you c… by on this entry
  • The album is great– the band aren't emo and the songs are better than anything Reuben could come up … by bassasin on this entry

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